11 December 2013

The Best Ever Christmas Dinner on a Budget

The concept of frugal Christmas dinner may sound like an oxymoron, but it really isn't as impossible as it may seem.

Even though holiday meals express the great value of abundance, you can still avoid stretching your finances beyond their capabilities.

How Can It Be Done?

There's nothing stopping you from serving up a delicious Christmas dinner without destroying your budget in the process. The key to saving money on this special meal is planning and forethought.  When you put time and effort into planning your holiday meals, the results are nearly always positive. And remember, it's just one meal on one day of the year.

As you plan your Christmas meal, consider your portions. Consider your guest list to ensure that your portions match how many people will be eating. Don't plan adult portions for children - that just wastes money, time, energy and food. Instead limit waste by only buying and cooking what your guests will actually eat. If you want to have generous leftovers for Boxing Day, simply figure them into the math as well.

When it comes to leftovers, and really, no matter how carefully you plan there will be something left over, plan how you are going to use them so nothing goes to waste.
Package your leftovers in portions sized for meals and store them based on when you plan to serve them. Meat and many side dishes can be frozen, so consider how you will use your leftovers to promote frugality and prevent waste.

Know when to shop. Between now and Christmas Eve there will be sales on Turkeys, hams, chocolates and lollies, drinks and seafood. Keep an eye on the supermarket sale brochures so you can pick up a bargain.  If you're brave enough, and have a good back-up plan in place, leaving the shopping for the turkey, chicken or ham until Christmas Eve can see you pick up a bargain or two. But you always run the risk of missing out altogether, that's when you'll need your back-up plan.

Cooking Christmas dinner can be stressful so make use of as many conveniences as you can. Some conveniences are worthwhile and will save you money while others won't. Pre-baked rolls will save you time and can be bought ahead and frozen.  Buying custard will relieve stress if you're not a confident custard cook.  Frozen peas and beans are just as nutritious as fresh and just need to be heated and served.  Plan ahead to learn which convenience items will help you save money in the long run.

Tempting those convenience is, don't forget that cooking from scratch isn't hard when you have a plan and it will save you a lot of money. So, when it's possible to do so, cook from scratch. Stuffing and gravy are two staples that you can create at home more cheaply than you can buy them. Frozen baked potatoes aren’t too expensive, but the real thing costs even less and tends to store well.

Your guests will appreciate your from-scratch cooking.

Special meals such as Christmas dinner are meant to be enjoyable. You and your guests will enjoy the meal all the more when you're not stressed out over the cost. Plan ahead, cut costs where you can, and have a wonderful meal that fits within your budget.

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